Close Up With Amanda Tapping

I was gob-smacked, literally, by the scope of it,” says Stargate SG-1 star Amanda Tapping, of Continuum. “When I read the script, I loved it. I thought it had all the elements of a great SG-1episode, but bigger. The fact that the scope was so far reaching – that we were in the Arctic, that we were doing all the old SG-1 things, and that we had Rick back… There was intrigue, and there was a ticking clock throughout the whole thing. It just felt it had all the right elements to it. And then we were gifted with these incredible opportunities – we shot in the Arctic, we shot on board a nuclear submarine, and we shot on F16’s that the Air Force flew up for us. So every aspect of it was great.”

Along with fellow cast members Richard Dean Anderson and Ben Browder, Tapping was part of the filming contingent that braved the wilds of the Arctic. Despite the difficulties – and the concerns – that the trip presented, the actress reports that it was one of the most amazing experiences of her life.

“You have no idea what to expect when you’re going up there, and I was petrified. They’d given us a safety briefing that scared the socks off me,” she laughs. “Obviously, there’s lots of ways you can die in the Arctic, and that’s what the briefing was about! Our safety meeting was, ‘Don’t fall through the ice, and don’t get eaten by a polar bear’! So that was just surreal. Having people literally on polar bear watch while you’re filming because polar bears have been spotted in the area – things like that, you sort of go ‘What…?’!

But the sense of camaraderie – we were all having this incredible shared experience, and those are the things that I will never forget. Like, the fridge was the floor of the mess tent, and the freezer was outside. Where we slept – these six tiny ‘hooches’ with a kerosene heater, and everyone chipped ice to make water. The Stargate women took over their little hut, and we took cardboard boxes and made little rugs and MacGyver’d the whole hooch with duct tape and paper towels to try to stop the wind and snow getting in, to keep it warm. It was such an amazing experience – I could go on and on!”

It wasn’t just the Arctic that made the filming of Continuum so special for the actress. As she mentioned previously, the film has a real feel of ‘classic’ Stargate SG-1 one about it, and Col. Carter is front-and-centre of the story right from the start. And despite all the seat-of-the-pants action, the film manages to have at its core a real set of emotional challenges for all the characters. This is particularly the case for Carter, Cam Mitchell and Daniel Jackson, who find themselves propelled into a timeline where none of their experience amounts to a hill of beans. In a world without Stargate Command, and moreover where Samantha Carter, famed astronaut, is very publicly dead, the SG-1 member finds herself completely disenfranchised.

“I think what I liked about it was that there was a sadness about the whole thing, for each of us,” Tapping muses. “Such a mundane sadness – for Carter, she’s just going to the grocery store, and Ben’s character is trying to go back to finding his roots. There’s just such a futility for all of us, which I really liked. It’s so not like our characters. Each of us is usually so proactive, and here we’re put in a position where we’re essentially castrated. We’re useless and we’re not allowed to use our strengths. So all of a sudden, when you see the first Alkesh go by you think, ‘Oh! Here we go! This is us again!’ So I liked that. It was interesting to play, because I’m so used to playing a character that’s so strong. Had it been an episode of SG-1 done as a two-parter, we probably would have explored those lives a little bit more and maybe had them looking up their friends from their past.”

Of course, there are some faces that resurface in this timeline, old friends that fans will revel in seeing on the screen once again, however briefly. In this time, however, no one knows our heroes for the extraordinary people they are, making for a real bittersweet undercurrent to those scenes. Tapping admits that although it was wonderful to see all those faces again, there was one obvious figure missing. Dr. Janet Fraiser, played by Teryl Rothery, Carter’s firm friend who was so tragically killed in the show’s seventh season.

“The one thing that I really missed on it was Teryl. I was hoping that there would be a way that we would find Dr. Fraiser somewhere. I know that the scope of the movie was so huge that the odds of us actually finding a comrade from our time was slim, but it would have been nice,” she says. “But the fact that we had Don Davis there, and we had William Devane come back as the president, and we had Cliff – we were very lucky in the people that we were able to bring back.”

One revelation is Beau Bridges take on the alternate Gen. Landry, who makes it clear that he has no reason to trust – or help – the displaced trio. The scene in which the General confronts Carter, Daniel and Mitchell is one that particularly sticks in Tapping’s mind.

“Beau was great. That scene was so much fun to play. His argument was absolutely right – ‘My god, the arrogance of you people! How dare you presume that your timeline is more important than ours, how dare you presume that your lives are more important that the lives that are here now?’. His argument made absolute sense and Beau tempered it well, because he had the moments where you could see the softness of Gen. Landry but at the end of the day he’s protecting his people. I thought he played it beautifully.”

At the heart of the movie are the elements that made the show such a smash-hit for ten years: a rip-roaring science fiction tale, fast-paced action, and the same wonderful characters that viewers started the journey with back in 1997. And for Tapping, that’s what’s most important about Continuum.

“It’s classic SG-1,” she says simply. “I honestly think it’s SG-1 at its very best. The best of what that series was is in that movie. The things that made the series successful, and what I think the fans enjoyed the most, is in Continuum.

Nor does Tapping think that the film marks the end of her involvement with Samantha Carter, the character that she has carried with her for so long.

“I don’t think that it’s the last for anyone. I think we all hold out hope that there will be a possibility for more, and I think it’s safe to say that we would all happily go back and do another one,” Tapping states. “I’m sure we’re all working on our own things right now, but if the opportunity came up and I was able, I would jump through flaming hoops to do another SG-1. I have so much respect for the people that run the franchise, for Brad and Robert who wrote the films, and if they asked I would do everything I could to do it.”

Interview courtesy of the official Stargate Website